“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
“In everything a touch of chaos.” With what sententious force and penetration the poet Ingersoll, in these words, characterizes one of the greatest qualities of the poet Whitman and his work.
Commenting on Ibsen’s letter to Brandes, in which the poet says he should like to engage in a movement for the abolition of the State, Auberon Herbert claims this as evidence that Ibsen is an Individualist. An Anarchist rather, I should say.
Reviewing H. S. Salt’s collection of Thoreau’s “Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers,” the New York “Nation” says: “He [Mr. Salt] asserts that Thoreau was an Anarchist in principle, but the name can hardly be applied to him with fairness now.” And why not, pray?
“The Freethinkers’ Magazine” for November contains: “Aristotle’s Agreement with Modern Ideas of Virtue,” by Sarah A. Underwood; “God in the Constitution,” by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll; “The Sorrows of God,” by George Jacob Holyoake; and communications from Parker Pillsbury, Lucy N. Colman, Susan H. Wixon, F. May Holland, “Agnosticns,” and other noted Liberal writers.
Some of the self-styled critics of utilitarianism and Egoism are wont to speak sneeringly of the “ego” and to admonish us that we are nothing but “bundles of traditions.” It were idle to argue with these, since they certainly are nothing but bundles of ignorant absurdities, but it may be profitable, or at least entertaining, to say a few words one of these days about them to the readers who have the sense of humor.
“There has just appeared in England,” says “La Révolte,” “a new Individualist-Anarchist journal, taking its inspiration at a distance from the ideas of Proudhon. We must regret that the first number is a bad edition of ‘Liberty’ of Boston.” The emphasis in the last sentence should be laid, not on bad, but on Liberty. Every fresh crop of Proudhon’s adherents and Liberty’s associates renders “La Révolte” as tearful as John Most becomes when confronted with some new manifestation of that accursed “Tuckerismus.”
As a rule, the Anarchists take very little interest in elections and campaigns. But every Anarchist must have been mightily pleased with the results of the late elections. The defeat of Cannon, McKinley, and other Republican ringleaders, and the sudden extinction of Reed, Ingalls, Quay, and the rest of the bulldozing tyrants and brazen corruptionists, can only gladden and cheer the heart of every real lover of liberty and manhood. The Democrats are at least sure not to do much harm, not to multiply mischievous legislation, albeit very little is to be expected of them in the way of genuine reform. No politician is intelligent enough and independent enough to do battle for true progress; but somehow it has come to pass that a Republican politician is the personification of everything that is most hateful and repulsive.
I reprint Grant Allen’s article on “Fair Wages” because there is so much that is true in its outspoken assault on the existing social system and because it acknowledges Anarchistic society as the highest ideal and one not impossible to realize. But I cannot go with Grant Allen, or regard him as anything but a dangerous enemy to liberty, when he says that, though Individualism is fairer than Socialism, both are fair, and that it is foolish to combat Socialism because of the strong set towards it. According to Mr. Allen’s conception of fairness, it is unfair to rob men of their wealth, but fair to rob them of their liberty. He thinks that a fair society where all men are alike oppressed in order that they may be alike rewarded. For my own part, I regard oppression as essentially unfair, however impartially it may be exercised, and I regard the man who fails to oppose oppression simply because there is a strong set towards it as a contemptible faint heart.
The “Saturday Review” professes to be glad that a tardy testimonial has been presented to Walt Whitman, but says “it is a pity that the chief actor should have been an offensive quack like Mr. Robert Ingersoll.” Considering that Walt Whitman’s “religion,” as Ingersoll has shown in his magnificent lecture, is no more entitled to the admiration of the philistines and hypocritical or ignorant pietists than the irréligion of Ingersoll himself, it is difficult to understand why the “Saturday Review” strains at Ingersoll after swallowing Whitman, why it finds him so offensive after relishing Whitman. But perhaps it is the very fact that Ingersoll has unveiled Whitman’s secularism and made clear to the least penetrating reader of Whitman that the poet is really an Agnostic which so displeases the “Saturday Review.” Supposing that it was no revelation to the “Saturday Review” to learn this fact (a rather charitable supposition), it is doubtless disturbed at the reflection that Ingersoll’s masterly tribute will bring many new disciples and admirers to Whitman’s religion and philosophy.
Commenting upon a correspondent’s proposal with regard to governmental taxation of property, the editor of the “Free Life” wishes to have the following questions answered: “Why is the State to be above all rights? Why is it not to be bound by the obligations which fall upon all citizens? Why is it to be the one great example of lawlessness — of taking what it wants with the strong hand — set up in our midst? What is the State? So many individuals. Who are the people to be dispossessed? So many other individuals, only fewer in number. We believe that the State can never cease to be a danger and an enemy to society as long as it is allowed to possess rights superior to those of the ordinary trading citizen. Why should the State buy cheaper and have better terms in all its business arrangements than ordinary citizens? Why should it be recognized as the one licensed half-robber, half-cheat, which is to get all it wants below the real value?” Attempts to supply reasons for the State’s being and doing all this have been made; but the results have been so unsatisfactory that our friends who favor compulsory taxation will have to try again.
In his “Civil Government in the United States” John Fiske attempts to make plain the difference between taxation and robbery. He says: “If individuals take away some of your property for purposes of their own, it is robbery; you lose your money and get nothing in return. But if the Government takes away some of your property in the shape of taxes, it is supposed to render to you an equivalent in the shape of good government, something without which our lives and property would not be safe. When the highwayman points his pistol at me and I hand him my purse and watch, I am robbed. But when I pay the tax collector, who can seize my watch or sell my house over my head if I refuse, I am simply paying what is fairly due from me toward supporting the Government.” But after laying down the theory, Mr. Fiske, mindful of certain practical experiences not altogether vindicatory of its soundness, observes: “In what we have been saying it has thus far been assumed that the Government is in the hands of upright and competent men and is properly administered. It is now time to observe that robbery may be committed by Governments as well as by individuals. If the business of governing is placed in the hands of men who have an imperfect sense of their duty toward the public; if such men raise money by taxation and then spend it on their own pleasures or to increase their political influence, or for other illegitimate purposes, it is really robbery just as much as if these men were to stand with pistols by the roadside and empty wallets of people passing by. They make a dishonest use of their high position as members of Government and extort money for which they make no return in the shape of services to the public. History is full of such lamentable instances of misgovemment, and one of the most important uses of the study of history is to teach us how they have occurred in order that we may learn how to avoid them as far as possible in the future.” Having said this, Mr. Fiske regards the matter as settled, entirely overlooking an important objection. Suppose the robber who takes away your money pretends to (or actually does) protect you, in consideration therefor, from other robbers stationed along your path. Is he justified in his act, and is he less a robber because of it? Mr. Fiske will hardly say “yes”; but in that case, his defence of government falls to the ground. Government — that is, the majority (at best) — takes as much from the minority as it chooses for such services to the minority as it chooses to render. It does not consult the wishes and opinions of the minority, it does not trouble itself about the minority’s confidence, or lack of confidence, in its honesty and competency; but forces its services on, and collects its pay from, the helpless minority in a manner undistinguishable from that of our hypothetical robber. Honesty is not enough to justify taxation; we want capable and skilful protection, which the most honest of governments can never succeed in giving us. Besides, we have a right to run risks and deal with the robbers in our own way. There is no difference in Mr. Fiske’s distinction. Taxation without actual consent is robbery. Uncle Sam is a highwayman.
A Song for November Eleventh.
As men who dared to be honest and speak out their earnest thought,
As men who could not be cowards nor hirelings — driven nor bought;
Not that they were the best of us;
Not that the only brave, they;
But as types of the rest of us
Keep we their sacrifice day.
True men were they, whom we honor — their soul, the soul of today!
Their names we proudly may utter, and teach our children to say!
Not that they, etc.
’Tis Engel and Spies and Parsons and Lingg and Fischer, who call!
And we are calling in answer, “Hail, hail to you! Heroes all!”
Not that they, etc.
Each one that’s fully imbued with the liberty-love we own,
May live as bravely as they did; if need be, die without moan.
Not that they, etc.
Letters from Italy.
To the Editor of Liberty:
The financial conditions of Italy are unfortunately now far worse than they formerly were. The cause of this sad phenomenon must be looked for in protection, which has considerably augmented the expenses of living, and is due, on the other hand, to constantly increasing taxes, needed by the Government for the armaments destined to uphold its foreign policy.
The whole country suffers through these unsatisfactory conditions, industry as well as agriculture, land-owners as well as the lower classes, who become less prosperous every day.
Considering the present state of things, it might be presumed that the coming elections would prove contrary to the Government, which has thus brought ruin on the country; but this supposition is far from being a certainty, and it would be nothing extraordinary if the Government should have a considerable majority in the new Chamber.
Many motives, which we shall now examine, force us to think our prevision the right one. In Italy, as in Spain, elections have a strong tendency to result favorably to the Government, being so managed as to favor the Government in power at the moment.
Latin races lack the true consciousness of self-government which characterizes the Anglo-Saxon races.
If the existence of absolute government has altogether disappeared from Italy and Spain, it has, however, left behind it in the people a deeply-rooted respect for authority considering that they still live in continual fear and awe of their rulers. And, as long as the principle of authority shall be thus misunderstood, no serious progress will ever be realized here. This consideration is perhaps the only one which can be invoked in favor of the republican form of government as opposed to the monarchical. Modern social science gives no importance whatever to the form of government, and if Italy were to become a republic, it would very likely have just.the same government it now has, and nothing would interfere with the fact of Signor Crispi’s becoming president of a republic, instead of being premier of a kingdom.
In the long run, however, republican institutions (we do not mean here exclusively the form of government) must act go as to diminish the force of the principle of authority, which monarchical institutions incline, on the contrary, to maintain. Americans, or Englishmen, who would like to have a precise notion of how matters stand in Italy, ought ever to bear in mind the capital difference existing between this country and their own. This difference consists in our not having the habeas corpus, so that we cannot prosecute the agents of government; when they violate the law, no authority but the cabinet minister prosecutes them; and so it is that the latter enjoys the greatest prestige among the lower classes, working orders, which feel themselves entirely at his mercy. In the cities the publicity of the papers prevents at least a too great abuse of power, but in the villages the Government controls the elections almost entirely, especially when it can form an alliance with the land-owners. The habeas corpus not existing here, the Italian citizen can be imprisoned whenever such is the pleasure of the Government. We are glad to say that the latter does not very often use its power. But as far as moral effect is concerned, there is a great difference between the rights of a free man and a concession dependent on the good-will of a master.
An American or English citizen is conscious of his rights in face of government, whereas the Italian feels himself entirely at its mercy. Sometimes, however, the Government does make use of those rights. We have already mentioned in these letters the fact of some Roman and Neapolitan citizens having been arrested without their having trespassed against the law, on the occasion of the visit of the German Emperor. The affair ended just as we had foreseen; they were set at liberty, without having been prosecuted, or else the tribunals acquitted them, unable to find any proof against them, the latter having, in fact, never existed. But meanwhile they passed some months in prison, merely for the Government’s pleasure.
At Catania a new municipal administration expected to show that its predecessor, which happened to be friends with the Government, bad dissipated the finances of the town; consequently it instituted an inquiry. The Government, anxious to befriend its partisans, began by dissolving the town council; then, as this measure was not sufficient, Signor De Felice, who had reported the result of the investigation, was imprisoned. But this fact excited such great disapproval in the whole country that the Government had to give in, and after some time Signor De Felice was set at liberty. In America, or in England, the latter would have obtained on the spot a writ of habeas corpus, and could further have prosecuted the officials who had illegally imprisoned him.
At Rome, not long ago, Signor Crisp! promised to give, and gave accordingly, a guarantee of 50,000 francs for the coöperative society of masons so as to secure the election of a deputy favorable to the Government. Such action is severely punishable by Italian electoral law, and yet there can be no doubt about the truth of this statement, considering that trustworthy witnesses assert the fact and that others have not denied it. This flagrant violation of the law has not, however, been brought to justice. No existing law enables the citizens to act; therefore it would be the place of the government attorney to take it up, but the latter, being dependent on the cabinet minister, refrains, of course, from taking any active part in the affair. An interpellation concerning this fact will be made in the Chamber at its next opening; but the Government, having the majority, cares but little about what may be said on the subject. We must remember, too, that in Latin countries the magistracy is more or less dependent on executive power. Some days ago, Senator Eula, judge of the court of cassation at Turin, announced to the present minister of justice that under his predecessors there had been magistrates, “who, instead of giving sentences, gave favors.” These words have a great importance as having been said by a magistrate who is at the head of the judicial hierarchy and is generally esteemed by everyone.
Another reason why the Government may take it for granted that the elections will, after all, prove favorable to it, even laying aside the consideration due to the administration in power at the moment, is to be found in the fact of Italian citizens having all their interests dependent on the central power.
A few days ago a great banquet was given in Signor Crispi’s honor, in order to give him an opportunity to make a speech. Together with the names of the persons so eagerly gathered at Signor Crispi’s side there might have been written the interested motives of their adhesion in this case. They were known formerly as partisans of Signor Depretis, Signor Crispi’s predecessor at the time of the greatest struggles of those two politicians. They may be seen next as sustainers of Signor Crispi’s successor, whoever he may be. Just as they say that cats can only be fond of the places they dwell in and not of the persons to whom they belong, so these good folk befriend power, no matter by whom it be exercised. Some aim solely to have the support of the servants of the Government at the next elections; these are the ambitious class, who desire to be deputies, so as to enjoy the influence and consideration generally attached to those functions. Others have interests either in financial or industrial enterprises, and need, therefore, the Government’s support. The latter are the most numerous. A sort of exchange of favors is then established between them and the Government; the latter lets them have the money of the tax-payers, whereas they give it their entire influence in the country. It is most curious to hear them talk, in particular some of those partisans of the Government who have not sufficient self-control to hide their thoughts when they happen to be among friends. They are not over-pleased in reality with Signor Crispi’s policy, and it is, for instance, most interesting to hear them discuss his latest speech, in which he spoke of nothing else but foreign policy, whereas the country’s chief interest lies just at present in economical and financial questions. But, whereas they allow themselves to blame the minister in the intimate circle of their friends, they would not dare to breathe a word against him in the Chamber, and Signor Crispi can make sure of their vote as long as he is in power, it being well understood that, when he falls, they will turn him the cold shoulder. If our country were more enlightened than it actually is, the people would understand their real interests, and it ought to be of those that one would have to speak to them in order to become their favorites. Unfortunately, few are the persons given to the study of economic questions, and even Socialists themselves lose their time and waste their strength in purely personal questions, instead of employing them in popularizing their principles. True Liberals in Italy ought especially to set about instructing the lower classes, for, thanks to their ignorance, we lack a good government, and it is only through instruction and teaching that we shall one day be able to improve the actual state of things.
On a Board of Registration.
[George E. Macdonald in Freethought.]
I was favored this year, as I have been in several previous years, with the appointment to a precinct board of registration. There is a good remuneration attached to the place, and I saw a chance to get even with the city and county on the money question. Heretofore the balance of trade has been in favor of the municipality. I agreed somewhat blindly to devote six days to the service of my fellow-citizens, as the saying is. I supposed that, as in New York, the board would sit but one day at a time, until I received a kind note from Registrar Smiley saying that my attention to business would be demanded from the 14th to the 19th of the present month, inclusive, and my failure to materialize on those days would subject me to a fine of five hundred dollars in gold coin. The invitation was so cordial that I accepted at once.
The board met at nine o’clock Tuesday morning in the front room of a one-story cottage located on Filbert street. We were seven. There was, first, the inspector, a naturalized native of Brittany, France; second, two United States supervisors, one a Swede, but both pioneers; third, two United States deputy marshals, one a young gentleman with no visible means of support, the other, a pressman; fourth, two judges, one a German jeweler, the other, the author of these lines. The daily wages of these seven members of the board aggregated $44. One of the deputy marshals served half the time, the other one did not serve at all. There was no possible use for either. The rest of the board attended pretty strictly to business. Every applicant for registration in this city and county must sign an affidavit describing his qualifications as an elector. The labor of filling out these affidavits I divided with the other judge, while the inspector administered the oath to the applicant, or “swore him off,” as he chose to call that incantation.
The first day (at an expense of $44) we received the affidavits of thirty-four citizens; the second day (expense $44) we registered twenty-two. In the five days, at an expense of $220 for clerical services and $20 for rent — total $240 — one hundred and twelve electors were registered. All the work done by the seven men in five days, with the exception of “swearing off” the electors, could have been done by one man in one day at a cost of $3. We could all see the injustice and extravagance of the thing, but we had our choice to serve or to pay the penalty of $500 in gold coin. No enterprise but a government that gets its money without hustling for it could stand that sort of business management.
I could not feel that we were always doing even and exact justice to the applicants for registration. For instance, Mr. McMullen came in to “registher,” swore that he had been naturalized but had lost his papers, and was accepted. He was one of the pope’s Irish, and just touched the pen while I wrote “John McMullen, his mark.” Tomaso Cuneo, one of the pope’s Italians, was similarly situated, and could not even make a legible cross. But when a man belonging to a large mercantile house in the city made the mistake of leaving his thirty-year-old naturalization papers at home, and would not swear they were lost, we had to decline to register him. He was justifiably excited over the matter, and I applauded his action when he took down my name in order to report me at headquarters. It was necessary that he should swear to the date of his naturalization. He said he was naturalized on the day Fort Sumter was fired upon. He could not give the exact date, and as the board could not allow anyone to answer for him that it was April 12, 1861, he went away indignant.
There were some queer old relics who presented themselves to be registered. Adolph Eberhardt was one. His naturalization papers were dated at Sonora, Tuolumne county, March 5, 1849, and he is therefore several months older as a citizen than California is as a State. He gave us the information that Knownothingism was very strong in Tuolumne county at the time he took out his papers, and that it cost him twenty-eight dollars to be naturalized. He added that, when he gave the money to the clerk of the court, the judge remarked that he was a little short of money himself, and thereupon put the twenty-eight dollars in his judicial vest pocket. Mr. Eberhardt signed his name with the stump of a hand that had been frozen off up in the mountains years ago.
The members of our board were above the suspicion of partisanship, and they never inquired the politics of the candidates who invited them across the street or around the corner to have a cigar. Although I was appointed as a judge to represent the Republican party on the board, I did not hesitate to accept a contract to print fifteen thousand cards for the Democratic nominee for supervisor of the second ward. This particular candidate is named John F. Winter, and he is a German of whom the neighbors speak highly.
The house at 715 Filbert street, in which the board sat, is built above a stable where about a score of Italian fish and fruit merchants lodge their horses. It is in the shadow of a larger building and never feels the warmth of sunshine. It is damp and full of odors and draughts that kept the board sneezing and filled our bones with rheumatic aches. We expressed our opinion of the place in the following communication to the board of health:
Before adjourning from their labors, the members of the board of registration for the Eighth Precinct of the Thirty-third Assembly District beg leave to report that in their opinion the house at 715 Filbert street is unfit for human habitation, being located above a stable whence arise odors destructive of comfort and dangerous to health. We would respectfully direct the attention of the board of health to the fact as above stated.
I left the place on Saturday night at ten o’clock, bearing with me the first symptoms of malaria I have ever enjoyed.
This election business strikes me as being very much like boys’ play, and I am getting too old and stale to feel the enthusiasm over it that many display. I took no pride in guiding the hand of illiteracy that made its mark on an affidavit qualifying it to vote upon my affairs. When John McFadden, leading two goats, appeared to register, and confessed his inability to either sign his name or read a ballot, I could not help offering the suggestion that it was unfair to receive him as a sovereign elector and exclude the intelligent animals he was leading. I once saw at a circus an educated pig that would pick a good hand out of a deck of cards and play it to win. Applying the educational test, the pig would have as good qualifications for voting as the pope’s illiterates.
Beauties of Government.
[Clippings from the Press.]
Guthrie, Ok., Oct. 29, 1899. The King Fisher capital bill was up for consideration in the Legislature today, and the lobbying friends of the measure were circulating freely on the floor.
The speaker’s Attention was called to this infraction of the rules by Representative Terrell of Guthrie, but he refused to have the lobbyists ejected.
Terrell thereupon drew a large revolver, stating that if the House could not be protected by its own rules, he at all events would protect himself. The sight of the revolver caused a stampede and adjourned the House.
Findlay, O., Oct. 21. Every window-glass factory in Findlay is now in the new trust, which has organized to control the production and sale of window glass.
The new tariff gives this trust additional protection for importations, and although no window glass will be imported, yet the prices will be as high as though the glass was imported and the duty paid on it.
This trust embraces all the window-glass houses in the United States west of Pittsburg, with the single exception of that at Celina, O., which is owned by Findlay parties. The effect of this combination will be to increase the cost of glass, because it prevents any competition.
Warsaw, Oct. 24. A party of 300 Poles, while attempting to reach Prussian territory today, with the intention of emigrating to Brazil, were fired upon by the Russian frontier guards. Six men, two women, and one child were killed.
Halifax, N. S., Oct. 28. The “Evening Recorder” announces that, owing to the small shipment of produce, eggs, etc., from Prince Edward Island since the McKinley bill went into force, the managers of the Boston, Halifax, & Prince Edward Island steamship line have been compelled to withdraw the steamer Worcester from the route.
Hartford, Conn., Oct. 28. Hartford merchants had a good illustration today of the operation of the McKinley bill. A crockery merchant, who has quite a large importing business, received this morning the invoice of a lot of white ware imported from England. The cost of the goods in England was $249.95. They were packed in eight crates, and the duties on the crates and packing alone amounted to $17.87. The crates could not be sold for over 50 cents each, or $4 in all, including the straw in them. The total duties on the invoice were $115.47. Of this amount the duties on the goods were $97.60, and on the packages containing the goods the duties were $17.87, or about 16 per cent, of the total duties, and a fraction over 7 per cent, of the first cost of the goods in England.
The goods are such as are used not by the wealthy alone, but by all classes. The merchant’s customers, of course, will have to pay for the duties on the useless crates, in extra charges on their purchases.
Providence, R. I., Oct. 30. The jury in the suit of Amanda J. Parker vs. the administrators of the estate of George W. Sheldon, in which she sued for $10,000 wages as housekeeper, and for $6000 more on two promissory notes, this afternoon gave a verdict in favor of the defendants, who proved that the plaintiff lived with Sheldon after he had deserted his wife and two children, and that her relations with him for twenty years were not of a moral character.
London, Nov. 2. A dispatch from Lisbon says that Mendelssohn, the Berliner Handelsgesellschaft, and the Sterns of Frankfort have advanced to the Portuguese Government £3,000,000 at 6½ per cent, interest for six months, on the guarantee of a monopoly of tobacco and spirits.
To make up the shortcoming of nineteen millions in the Budget of 1891, M. Rouvier, the French chancellor of the exchequer, proposes to raise twelve millions by increasing the on patent medicines. The notion pleases everybody, especially the doctors.
A high official of the Russian police has just left St. Petersburg on the mission to inspect the registers of the Russian embassies and consulates, in order to know exactly the number, names, and character of the Russian subjects living abroad.
It is going hard with the German Lutherans in the Baltic provinces. Those ministers who have opposed the Russificating of the district, and especially the enforcement of the Russian language in teaching and preaching, are now deprived of their salaries. This is a breach of the State bargain, The white terror reigns supreme in that region.
It must be a sort of incubator, the electoral urn at Ticino, in Switzerland, where the votes generate by division after the manner of microbes. The 23,900 registered electors cast their votes the other day, but, on opening the ballot boxes, 25,952 voting papers have been found. This is to be the ground of the protest against the validity of the election.
Arthur W. Morton, a Lewiston young man, was sitting in a barber shop in that town reading a paper when Collector of Taxes Woodside entered the shop followed by City Marshal McGawley. Mr. Woodside stepped up to Mr. Morton and said: “Here is your bill for poll tax; I want you to settle it or go to jail.” Morton folded up his paper and laid i it down, stood up, and said: “All right, I’ll go to jail then.” He accompanied the collector to Auburn and was locked up. He has been in consultation with lawyers.
The Servian Government has just granted the monopoly of pig-killing to an Englishman, the factories for slaughter and curing being free from taxation for a period of fifteen years.
About twelve years ago, the Government began the erection of its Federal building at Chicago. Government architects furnished the plans, and inspectors were employed to see that the plans were carefully followed. The material was officially tested, and the work, in the course of its progress, daily examined. Before the roof was put on, however, the walls began to settle. This they have continued to do, until now they are from six to eighteen inches below their former lines. Congress has appropriated $47,000 for repairing it, but it is likely to be condemned, and the 3,600 employees ordered removed to other places. It is settling at an increasing rate and unevenly. It cost, originally, $6,000,000.
In a case of assault recently tried before a Brooklyn (N. Y.) judge, it was shown that, while the accused had been out on bail, a witness had been detained in prison owing to his lack of means and influence. The judge could not see why the witness had been sent to jail. He said: “It appears, from information given to me, that you happened, accidentally, to be an innocent witness to an assault committed by one man on another, both entire strangers to you, and that the magistrate who investigated the assault sent you to jail on a commitment charging you with being guilty of the crime of witness in a matter to be tried before a Court of Special Sessions. The idea of charging a man with such a crime as that and sending him to jail is beyond my comprehension. I have no hesitancy in saying that your imprisonment was an outrage, and that the commitment on which you were held is absolutely ridiculous and absurd.”
Great dissatisfaction exists among the Indians of the Chickasaw Nation because of a charter granted by their government to a company of twenty men giving them absolute control of all gold and precious mineral found in a section of the Arbuckle Mountains twenty-five miles square. The Indians claim that the charter has been granted to a few white men, and that a number of the legislators, with the governor, have been taken into the company. It is asserted that, if the Interior Department does not annul the charter and place the lands under the same laws that govern gold and silver mining in other parts of the United States, there will be serious trouble, if not open war, against the company.
That “Socialist Generalization” Again.
At the British Association this year an account was given of compressed air as a motor force in Birmingham. At the central point they have three 1,000-horse engines engaged in compressing the air, which was then delivered through pipes to customers who require it. Its great interest lies in the feature that it is suited for light work of all description, as of the tailor, shoemaker, printer, turner, hairdresser, etc. We may hope that it will be the means of allowing many small men to compete with the larger houses, and in fact that it may produce what is so much wanted,— individual workers, following their own methods. In Paris they have had for some years steam power carried into small workshops and let at so much per hour.
This is one of the little incidents of industry which shows how rash the Socialist is in his rapid generalization that the small man is done with. It is possible that we are only just entering on the stage of the small man. But in order that a perfectly free development may take place we must resolutely oppose any interference with home work, any forcible driving of men into factories. The old interferences have got to be done away with, and all new ones resisted.
The “Sun,” N. Y., ridicules the notion which prevails in the Farmers’ Alliance that the Government should establish storage warehouses for grain and other products where farmers may deposit their crops and borrow money at a low rate of interest on the security. The editor says:
It is out of the question for the Government to run an agricultural pawnshop.
It is to be deeply regretted that the editor does not explain what difference there may be between running an agricultural pawnshop and a mining pawnshop. The recent Silver Bullion Law has turned the Government into a mining pawnshop. Nor does there seem to be any sufficient distinction between pawnbrokerage and banking that one can be justified but not the other. Yet the Government has constituted itself banker for several purposes. In the first place, there is the grand monopoly of one end of the whole banking business, produced by arrogating to itself the function of issuing money for circulating purposes, and by refusing to enforce, or to let others enforce, obligations contracted in other terms than in its “legal tender.” In the second place, the post-office is intruded into the banking business by means of the money-order department. And since we have mentioned the post-office, perhaps some one will kindly explain what the difference is between carrying letters and making or lending money, or storing silver or grain, such that it is proper for the Government to assume the one function, but not the others. The truth is, of course, that there is no rational halting place between the discharge of a single industrial function by the Government and the discharge of all industrial functions by it. And so it will prove, not only rationally but historically. The Government will be gradually urged on to complete Socialism, or it will be arrested and cut loose altogether from industry. Which course will be pursued depends upon the intelligence of the people. But the factors are so complex that it is difficult — shall I say impossible? — to tell which tendency will prevail.
Gladstone on Liberty.
[From a recent political speech.]
If the laboring men of this country were to contract the habit, whenever there was a difficulty before them, of calling for an act of parliament to put it down, instead of endeavoring by free action and by the operation of the healthy power of public opinion in the local communities — if they were to prefer the stark and rigid action of sections in an act of parliament to that method of freedom in discussion — a method of elasticity which permits error to be corrected and false steps to be retraced — they would seriously deteriorate the habits of their minds, and, as free men, they would come to stand on a lower and not on a higher position than that which they occupied before. I attach to freedom a value I could not describe. When people tell me that, since I was a young man, I have changed all my political opinions, I say: “No, that is not quite true.” I have not changed all my political opinions at all. I came into political life with very considerable veneration for the things ancient, and I have a very considerable veneration for them. I dislike, I may almost say I detest, gratuitous and unnecessary changes. I like that every man who proposes a change should be required to give a reason for that change. But, gentlemen, one great change I have made. I was educated and brought up not to know the value of liberty, and I have learned the value of liberty,— and that is a great change. And I have learned to know that, although liberty may be misused and abused, like every blessing of providence, yet without liberty there is nothing sound, there is nothing healthy, there is nothing solid, there is nothing that can move onwards on the face of this earth that we inhabit. Gentlemen, as a part of the love of liberty is to love it on behalf of every other man just as much as you love it for yourselves, I trust that in considering labor questions you will always bear in mind that the resort to the coercive and rigid operation of public authority, though it may in certain cases be a necessity, is infinitely inferior — so long as you are not driven to it by necessity — is infinitely inferior to doing your own work by yourselves among yourselves, to seeking strength by uniting yourselves hand to hand and shoulder to shoulder, and in so marching forward, with the blessing of providence, to the attainment of every real, every social, every political, and every moral good.
Excessive in Quantity; Bad in Quality.
[D. G. Thompson in The New Ideal.]
Passing now to our political conditions, it is to be remarked that the chief iniquity at present is the use of the powers of government and official position for private ends. Abuse of public trust for personal gain is often no bar to political preferment. It is common for those in office to think first of their own profit. One class of evils is thus presented. Another is found in the constant use of legislative functions to support private interests. To purify our governmental offices and to limit legislation to general purposes seem to be the two things of transcendent importance in American politics, the country over. It is hard to see how either of these desiderata is to be obtained by increasing the number of official positions and functions and creating a necessity for more legislative measures. Rather it would seem to be the true course to abolish a great many of the offices we have, and to dispense with a considerable portion of the laws on our statute-books. The business condition of the country is much better settled when Congress is not in session. Those States which have adopted for their legislatures the biennial session rule, have found it greatly to their advantage. If the legislature seldom meets there is so much less opportunity for schemes of jobbery, while people can live and justice be administered under the organic law and the general statutes which all our States have had from the beginning. So-called “private bills” are the curse of our Congressional and State legislation. The lower house of Congress has almost ceased to be available for the discussion and enactment of measures affecting the general welfare. It is merely a vehicle for the promotion of private schemes, and its action is the resultant of the conflict of private interests, each seeking by fraud, force, or compromise the passage of its own bills. It were far better to have no legislature for an interval than to have this unseemly strife kept up through several months of each year.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
Justice and Liberty.
The Anarchists proclaim the sovereignty of the individual, and demand for him the full enjoyment of every liberty except the liberty to trespass or invade. They believe, in other words, in equal liberty, and want every individual to count for one and no more than one. They deny that society, which is a pure abstraction, has any rights or any claims which it may rightfully enforce at the expense of the liberty of the individual. Whatever an individual may properly decline to do when asked by his neighbor, he may properly decline to do when ordered by the entire community. What is justice in the relations between one individual and another, is justice between the individual and all his neighbors combined in “the community.”
Whoever, accepting these principles, opposes the prevailing laws and arrangements and seeks to bring social relations into congruity with them, is an Anarchist. All who refuse to accept them are opponents of Anarchism.
Herbert Spencer advocated these principles in his “Social Statics,” and so was an Anarchist. He then held that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, and that no individual ought to be compelled to belong to the political corporation and pay toward its support. Now, however, Mr. Spencer takes a different view, and denies that the right of the individual to ignore the State — even when purified and reformed and freed from the more flagrant abuses — is a corollary to the proposition that the individual should have every liberty except the liberty to violate the equal liberty of others. He holds that there is an ethical warrant for governmental compulsion upon non-invasive individuals, and that, beyond the question of justice between man and man, there is a question of justice between each individual and the aggregate of individuals. In other words, Mr. Spencer no longer is an Anarchist; he is now an Individualist, according to the definition (or rather description) of Individualism which the organ of English Individualism, the “Personal Rights Journal,” furnishes. “Individualism,” says the editor, “would not only restrain the active invader up to the point necessary to restore freedom to others, but would also coerce the man who would otherwise be a passive witness of, or conniver at, aggression into coöperation against his more active colleague.” Or, to put the doctrine in Mr. Spencer’s words, the State may rightfully coerce the individual into doing anything which may be necessary to protect the community from external and internal enemies. The sacrifice which may be rendered needful by a state of actual defensive warfare or a state of preparation for such, the individual may be rightfully coerced into making.
Much as I would like to deal here with Mr. Spencer’s arguments in support of his present position, the consideration that what Mr. Spencer has advanced on the subject is fragmentary, incomplete, and necessarily vague, and that he has promised to treat of it elaborately in the remaining parts of his “Principles of Morality,” makes me refrain from entering into such an examination. I will only note the important fact that Mr. Spencer defends the restrictions imposed by the necessities of war on ethical grounds, and that he endeavors to prove that justice authorizes the State to demand the sacrifice. Not so the “Personal Rights Journal.” In denying the right of the non-invasive individual to ignore the political corporation, the editor undertakes no defence of his position from the standpoint of justice and absolute political ethics; he does not attempt to show that the coercion he favors is in obedience to the law of equal liberty; but seems rather not unwilling to concede that such coercion is in violation of equal liberty and of justice. He contents himself with the unsupported assertion that such coercion is necessary in order that freedom may be at the maximum. He says: “The denunciation of all taxation, by placing all taxation on the same level, really acts as a support to unjust taxes; and the association of this short-sighted cry for an impracticable measure with Individualism tends to produce in the minds of the public the idea that Individualists are people whom sober politicians may safely leave out of account.” But we are not apt to estimate the value of social principles by the enthusiasm of practical and sober politicians. We are not discussing the ways and means of reforming social relations and obtaining recognition for our political proposals. What the editor of the “Personal Rights Journal” thinks of the method by which Anarchists expect or wish to accomplish their ends is one question; what he thinks of the ethical propriety and logical soundness of their principles is quite a different question. We hold that the violation of liberty involved in the protective methods which the Individualists approve is contrary to the principle of justice, and we want the Individualists to say plainly whether they agree with this or not. If not, then the question between us is one of principle, and our conceptions of justice are not identical.
Let us, however, suppose that the Individualists acknowledge the injustice of the policy of coercing non-invasive people into coöperation against invaders. What, then, would remain to distinguish and separate the Individualists from the Anarchists? This, as I understand the matter: The Individualists would say that as long as anti-social tendencies manifest themselves in aggressive conduct and the necessity for protecting and guarding non-invasive individuals, as well as punishing criminals, continues to render coöperation for the purpose indispensable, at least in the judgment of the majority, the best way, if not the only practicable way of securing such coöperation and through it the maximum of personal liberty will be to force all the members of the community to be members of the political corporation. Only when the anti social tendencies shall have disappeared under the improved social and economic arrangements introduced by the Individualists will it be possible to dispense with all compulsion. Thus Anarchism may be conceived by the Individualists as the evolutionary outcome of Individualism. They may believe and trust that men will gradually adapt themselves to social life and will at some future time, more or less remote, reach a state of perfect adaptation, without feeling at all obliged to coöperate with the Anarchists in their campaign against compulsory taxation, since they may deny the possibility of realizing the maximum of liberty for the individual through the application of laissez faire to protection and claim that the attempt to make the application would reduce social life to a state of insecurity and chaos.
The Anarchists, however, think this fear unfounded, and claim, on the contrary, that the only way to realize the maximum of liberty is by organizing a campaign against compulsory taxation as soon as circumstances permit. As we understand men, it is precisely by leaving them free to coöperate or decline to coöperate that a successful (because voluntary) coöperation can be secured. It is not necessary to force a non-invasive individual to aid another non-invasive individual to overcome an aggressor. Men who will not invade will not, as a rule, suffer the perpetration of an outrage upon their neighbors. They will naturally come to the rescue of the injured party and coöperate in the defence. The only way to check this natural impulse and to produce an indifference to the welfare of others in generous people is to order them to render services. They will try to avoid doing so if they are told they must. The more refined a person the less disposed he is to obey, and the more easily is his resentment aroused by, an unjust call. Rather than submit to injustice he will sacrifice a great deal in attempts to evade or violate the law, while, if left free, his own interest and love of equity will prompt him to assist in the organization of protection. And even if many should refuse to join the protective association, there would still be a sufficient number of men enlisted to insure proper protection to all who wish it.
In view of all these considerations, it seems absurd to decide to deprive everybody of a great amount of liberty for fear of a possible but exceedingly improbable decrease in the amount of security. We cannot therefore content ourselves with the hope that a state of perfect liberty will be the evolutionary outcome of a condition of Individualism, and we intend to put our shoulders to the wheel and consciously and directly try to shorten the period of transition by resisting all invasion, whether private or public, illegal or legal. Meantime there is a great deal to accomplish in which Anarchists and Individualists may and should work together. Before the question of compulsory taxation versus voluntary support of protective organizations becomes a practical issue, government regulation in many and important relations will need to be vigorously attacked and done away with. V. Y.
Private Property and Freedom.
Mr. Auberon Herbert, in paying his respects to those who attempt to reconcile State ownership of all property with freedom of the individual, tells them that they are living in a world of unrealities and tries to dispel the mist through which they look at things by aiding them with a few guiding suggestions. “If,” he says, “they hate private property and yet love freedom, let them be Anarchists; if they hate private property and don’t care about freedom, let them be State Socialists; if they love freedom and at the same time believe in private property, as we do, let them be Individualists.”
The implication that the Anarchists “hate” private property is one that Mr. Herbert will utterly fail to justify or support by any known fact relative to the philosophy of Anarchism. The Anarchists, as Anarchists, must believe in private property, for the individual who is not free to use and abuse the fruits of his labor without hindrance is not a free individual. Whatever an individual gets in obedience to the law of equal liberty is his own private property,— to use and abuse,— and no one may, under any pretext whatever, dispossess him of any portion of it. To deny that the Anarchists accept this principle, or rather this corollary to the general principle of equal liberty, is to misrepresent them.
But of course I am not insinuating here that Mr. Herbert misrepresents the Anarchists through ignorance of their position or sectarian animosity. Mr. Herbert understands the Anarchistic position well enough, and he is always anxious to be fair. How, then, can he say something so untrue, something so groundless and gratuitous? The explanation of this paradoxical phenomenon is simple. Mr. Herbert alludes to the Anarchists’ position on the land question, which involves the dispossession of present landlords and the entire abolition of the existing system of land tenure. The landlords own a certain kind of property, land, which the Anarchists are not willing should remain their own private property forever. They wish to expropriate the landlords, and allow the landless to settle on land which does not now belong to them. This, thinks Mr. Herbert, shows that the Anarchists hate private property. That Mr. Herbert’s reasoning is defective is obvious. Even if we did not believe in private property in land,— if we took the position of Spencer in his “Statics” that land should always remain an exception to the rule and be treated as the property of the community,— Mr. Herbert would not be justified in reproaching us as he does, any more than he would have been justified in accusing Mr. Spencer after the publication of the book referred to of hating all private property. But we do not take that old Spencerian view, and we do most emphatically declare in favor of private property in land. Not only, therefore, is it not true that we hate all private property, but it is not true that we hate any kind of private property,— yes, any kind of private property acquired in obedience to the law of equal liberty.
“Ay, there’s the rub!” Mr. Herbert will exclaim. Yes, we reply, there’s the rub. The difference between Mr. Herbert and us is this: he believes in allowing people to retain all their possessions, no matter how unjustly and basely acquired, while getting them, so to speak, to swear off stealing and usurping and to promise to behave well in the future. We, on the other hand, while insisting on the principle of private property in wealth honestly obtained under the reign of liberty, do not think it either unjust or unwise to dispossess the landlords who have monopolized natural wealth by force and fraud. We hold that the poor and disinherited toilers would be justified in expropriating, not alone the landlords, who notoriously have no equitable titles to their lands, but all the financial lords and rulers, all the millionaires and very wealthy individuals. No honest intelligent man could denounce such an act as contrary to any principle of justice. The Anarchists do not hate private property, but they hate force and fraud. We believe in equal liberty, and equal liberty implies equality of opportunities. We do not believe in invasion, aggression, nor in property acquired by aggression and invasion. Recognizing that almost all possessors of great wealth enjoy what neither they nor their ancestors rightfully acquired (and if Mr. Herbert wishes to challenge the correctness of this statement, we are ready to go with him into a full discussion of the subject), we do not believe that the poor need to hesitate about inviting themselves to the feast, provided they are convinced that it is expedient, advantageous, and wise for them to do so. Mr. Herbert is aware that many revolutionists, thinking that expropriation of the owners of wealth is necessary and wise,— that labor cannot improve its condition save by getting possession and control of all capital,— actually do preach general expropriation of the capitalists and expect the workingmen “to rise in their might” some day and make what they call a “revolution.” But to these we do not lend countenance. We have repeatedly criticised and ridiculed them. We have protested against their views, and have warned the workingmen not to follow them. But we have done all this not because we deem such expropriation unjust, invasive, criminal, but solely because we are convinced that there is a better, safer, and wiser way for labor to pursue with a view to emancipation. Instead of a blessing, such an expropriation would be a curse. Labor would not be benefited by it, and would run the risk of indefinitely postponing the dawn of the free life. This being our conviction, we discourage and dissuade the would-be expropriators, pointing out to them a more peaceful, rational way.
One exception, however, we are compelled to make. We do believe that the landless will, individually and for the purpose of occupying ownership, take possession of the land not personally occupied and used by the landlords, and will protect each other in the possession of such lands against any power hostile to them. I purposely say, “compelled to make.” For, speaking for myself, it is with great reluctance that I accept this conclusion. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than the discovery that even this partial expropriation is not strictly necessary, and that it is possible for labor to gradually lift itself into the position to command its full share of wealth, and absorb in the shape of wages all that is now alienated from it in the forms of profit, interest proper, and monopoly rent, without disturbing any landlord. Nothing, I say, would give me greater pleasure than such a discovery, for I dislike violent methods and anything partaking of the catastrophic. Nothing would suit me so well as a perfectly peaceful solution of the land question. But neither Mr. Herbert nor anybody else has yet succeeded in showing that justice to labor can be secured without the overthrow of the existing land system, nor has my own thinking been more fruitful. And seeing that land monopoly is a huge evil, I must continue, against my inclination, to urge the abolition of the monopoly and the adoption of a system harmonizing as much as possible with the law of equal liberty.
Instead of accusing the Anarchists of hating private property, Mr. Herbert should admit that we are as much in favor of private property acquired in obedience to the law of equal liberty as he and proceed to discuss the real difference between us. If he holds that the landlords are justly entitled to their lands, let him make a defence of the landlords or an attack on our unjust proposal. If he merely considers expropriation unwise and inexpedient, and can show that labor may obtain freedom and equity without any change in the land system, I assure him that we are anxious to give him the most eager and close attention. V. Y.
The Relation of the State to the Individual.*
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Presumably the honor which you have done me in inviting me to address you today upon “The Relation of the State to the Individual” is due principally to the fact that circumstances have combined to make me somewhat conspicuous as an exponent of the theory of Modern Anarchism,— a theory which is coming to be more and more regarded as one of the few that are tenable as a basis of political and social life. In its name, then, I shall speak to you in discussing this question which either underlies or closely touches almost every practical problem that confronts this generation. The future of the tariff, of taxation, of finance, of property, of woman, of marriage, of the family, of the suffrage, of education, of invention, of literature, of science, of the arts, of personal habits, of private character, of ethics, of religion, will be determined by the conclusion at which mankind shall arrive as to whether and how far the individual owes allegiance to the State.
Anarchism, in dealing with this subject, has found it necessary, first of all, to define its terms. Popular conceptions of the terminology of politics are incompatible with the rigorous exactness required in scientific investigation. To be sure, a departure from the popular use of language is accompanied by the risk of misconception by the multitude, who persistently ignore the new definitions; but, on the other hand, conformity thereto is attended by the still more deplorable alternative of confusion in the eyes of the competent, who would be justified in attributing inexactness of thought where there is inexactness of expression. Take the term “State,” for instance, with which we are especially concerned today. It is a word that is on every lip. But how many of those who use it have any idea of what they mean by it? And, of the few who have, how various are their conceptions! We designate by the term “State” institutions that embody absolutism in its extreme form and institutions that temper it with more or less liberality. We apply the word alike to institutions that do nothing but aggress and to institutions that, besides aggressing, to some extent protect and defend. But which is the State’s essential function, aggression or defence, few seem to know or care. Some champions of the State evidently consider aggression its principle, although they disguise it alike from themselves and from the people under the term “administration,” which they wish to extend in every possible direction. Others, on the contrary, consider defence its principle, and wish to limit it accordingly to the performance of police duties. Still others seem to think that it exists for both aggression and defence, combined in varying proportions according to the momentary interests, or maybe only whims, of those happening to control it. Brought face to face with these diverse views, the Anarchists, whose mission in the world is the abolition of aggression and all the evils that result therefrom, perceived that, to be understood, they must attach some definite and avowed significance to the terms which they are obliged to employ, and especially to the words “State” and “government.” Seeking, then, the elements common to all the institutions to which the name “State” has been applied, they have found them two in number: first, aggression; second, the assumption of sole authority over a given area and all within it, exercised generally for the double purpose of more complete oppression of its subjects and extension of its boundaries. That this second element is common to all States, I think, will not be denied,— at least, I am not aware that any State has ever tolerated a rival State within its borders; and it seems plain that any State which should do so would thereby cease to be a State and to be considered as such by any. The exercise of authority over the same area by two States is a contradiction. That the first element, aggression, has been and is common to all States will probably be less generally admitted. Nevertheless, I shall not attempt to reinforce here the conclusion of Spencer, which is gaining wider acceptance daily,— that the State had its origin in aggression, and has continued as an aggressive institution from its birth. Defence was an afterthought, prompted by necessity; and its introduction as a State function, though effected doubtless with a view to the strengthening of the State, was really and in principle the initiation of the State’s destruction. Its growth in importance is but an evidence of the tendency of progress toward the abolition of the State. Taking this view of the matter, the Anarchists contend that defence is not an essential of the State, but that aggression is. Now, what is aggression? Aggression is simply another name for government. Aggression, invasion, government, are interconvertible terms. The essence of government is control, or the attempt to control. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it is made by one man upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy. On the other hand, he who resists another’s attempt to control is not an aggressor, an invader, a governor, but simply a defender, a protector; and the nature of such resistance is not changed whether it be offered by one man to another man, as when one repels a criminal’s onslaught, or by one man to all other men, as when one declines to obey an oppressive law, or by all other men to one man, as when a subject people rises against a despot, or as when the members of a community voluntarily unite to restrain a criminal. This distinction between invasion and resistance, between government and defence, is vital. Without it there can be no valid philosophy of politics. Upon this distinction and the other considerations just outlined, the Anarchists frame the desired definitions. This, then, is the Anarchistic definition of government: the subjection of the non-invasive individual to an external will. And this is the Anarchistic definition of the State: the embodiment of the principle of invasion in an individual, or a band of individuals, assuming to act as representatives or masters of the entire people within a given area. As to the meaning of the remaining term in the subject under discussion, the word “individual,” I think there is little difficulty. Putting aside the subtleties in which certain metaphysicians have indulged, one may use this word without danger of being misunderstood. Whether the definitions thus arrived at prove generally acceptable or not is a matter of minor consequence. I submit that they are reached scientifically, and serve the purpose of a clear conveyance of thought. The Anarchists, having by their adoption taken due care to be explicit, are entitled to have their ideas judged in the light of these definitions.
Now comes the question proper: What relations should exist between the State and the individual? The general method of determining these is to apply some theory of ethics involving a basis of moral obligation. In this method the Anarchists have no confidence. The idea of moral obligation, of inherent rights and duties, they totally discard. They look upon all obligations, not as moral, but as social, and even then not really as obligations except as these have been consciously and voluntarily assumed. If a man makes an agreement with men, the latter may combine to hold him to his agreement; but, in the absence of such agreement, no man, so far as the Anarchists are aware, has made any agreement with God or with any other power of any order whatsoever. The Anarchists are not only utilitarians, but egoists in the farthest and fullest sense. So far as inherent right is concerned, might is its only measure. Any man, be his name Bill Sykes or Alexander Romanoff, and any set of men, whether the Chinese highbinders or the Congress of the United States, have the right, if they have the power, to kill or coerce other men and to make the entire world subservient to their ends. Society’s right to enslave the individual and the individual’s right to enslave society are only unequal because their powers are unequal. This position being subversive of all systems of religion and morality, of course I cannot expect to win immediate assent thereto from the audience which I am addressing today; nor does the time at my disposal allow me to sustain it by an elaborate, or even a summary, examination of the foundations of ethics. Those who desire a greater familiarity with this particular phase of the subject should read a profound German work, “Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum” written years ago by a comparatively unknown author, Dr. Caspar Schmidt, whose nom de plume was Max Stirner. Read only by a few scholars, the book is buried in obscurity, but is destined to a resurrection that perhaps will mark an epoch.
If this, then, were a question of right, it would be, according to the Anarchists, purely a question of strength. But, fortunately, it is not a question of right: it is a question of expediency, of knowledge, of science,— the science of living together, the science of society. The history of humanity has been largely one long and gradual discovery of the fact that the individual is the gainer by society exactly in proportion M society is free, and of the law that the condition of a permanent and harmonious society is the greatest amount of individual liberty compatible with equality of liberty. The average man of each new generation has said to himself more clearly and consciously than his predecessor; “My neighbor is not my enemy, but my friend, and I am his, if we would but mutually recognize the fact. We help each other to a better, fuller, happier living; and this service might be greatly increased if we would cease to restrict, hamper, and oppress each other. Why can we not agree to let each live his own life, neither of us transgressing the limit that separates our individualities?” It is by this reasoning that mankind is approaching the real social contract, which is not, as Rousseau thought, the origin of society, but rather the outcome of a long social experience, the fruit of its follies and disasters. It is obvious that this contract, this social law, developed to its perfection, excludes all aggression, all violation of equality of liberty, all invasion of every kind. Considering this contract in connection with the Anarchistic definition of the State as the embodiment of the principle of invasion, we see that the State is antagonistic to society; and, society being essential to individual life and development, the conclusion leaps to the eyes that the relation of the State to the individual and of the individual to the State must be one of hostility, enduring till the State shall perish.
“But,” it will be asked of the Anarchists at this point in the argument, “what shall be done with those individuals who undoubtedly will persist in violating the social law by invading their neighbors?” The Anarchists answer that the abolition of the State will leave in existence a defensive association, resting no longer on a compulsory but on a voluntary basis, which will restrain invaders by any means that may prove necessary. “But that is what we have now,” is the rejoinder. “You really want, then, only a change of name?” Not so fast, please. Can it be soberly pretended for a moment that the State, even as it exists here in America, is purely a defensive institution? Surely not, save by those who see of the State only its most palpable manifestation,— the policeman on the street-corner. And one would not have to watch him very closely to see the error of this claim. Why, the very first art of the State, the compulsory assessment and collection of taxes, is itself an aggression, a violation of equal liberty, and, as such, vitiates every subsequent act, even those acts which would be purely defensive if paid for out of a treasury filled by voluntary contributions. How is it possible to sanction, under the law of equal liberty, the confiscation of a man’s earnings to pay for protection which he has not sought and does not desire? And, if this is an outrage, what name shall we give to such confiscation when the victim is given, instead of bread, a stone, instead of protection, oppression? To force a man to pay for the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult to injury. But that is exactly what the State is doing. Read the “Congressional Record”; follow the proceedings of the State legislatures; examine our statute-books; test each act separately by the law of equal liberty,— you will find that a good nine-tenths of existing legislation serves, not to enforce that fundamental social law, but either to prescribe the individual’s personal habits, or, worse still, to create and sustain commercial, industrial, financial, and proprietary monopolies which deprive labor of a large part of the reward that it would receive in a perfectly free market. “To be governed,” says Proudhon, “is to be watched, inspected, spied, directed, law-ridden, regulated, penned up, indoctrinated, preached at, checked, appraised, ÿized, censured, commanded, by beings who have neither title nor knowledge nor virtue. To be governed is to have every operation, every transaction, every movement noted, registered, counted, rated, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, refused, authorized, indorsed, admonished, prevented, reformed, redressed, corrected. To be governed is, under pretext of public utility and in the name of the general interest, to be laid under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, exhausted, hoaxed, robbed; then, upon the slightest resistance, at the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, annoyed, hunted down, pulled about, beaten, disarmed, bound, imprisoned, shot, mitrailleused, judged, condemned, banished, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and, to crown all, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.” And I am sure I do not need to point out to you the existing laws that correspond to and justify nearly every count in Proudhon’s long indictment. How thoughtless, then, to assert that the existing political order is of a purely defensive character instead of the aggressive State which the Anarchists aim to abolish!
This leads to another consideration that bears powerfully upon the problem of the invasive individual, who is such a bugbear to the opponents of Anarchism. Is it not such treatment as has just been described that is largely responsible for his existence? I have heard or read somewhere of an inscription written for a certain charitable institution:
“This hospital a pious person built,
But first he made the poor wherewith to fill’t.”
And so, it seems to me, it is with our prisons. They are filled with criminals which our virtuous State has made what they are by its iniquitous laws, its grinding monopolies, and the horrible social conditions that result from them. We enact many laws that manufacture criminals, and then a few that punish them. Is it too much to expect that the new social conditions which must follow the abolition of all interference with the production and distribution of wealth will in the end so change the habits and propensities of men that our jails and prisons, our policemen and our soldiers,— in a word, our whole machinery and outfit of defence,— will be superfluous? That, at least, is the Anarchists’ belief. It sounds Utopian, but it really rests on severely economic grounds. Today, however, time is lacking to explain the Anarchistic view of the dependence of usury, and therefore of poverty, upon monopolistic privilege, especially the banking privilege, and to show how an intelligent minority, educated in the principle of Anarchism and determined to exercise that right to ignore the State upon which Spencer, in his “Social Statics,” so ably and admirably insists, might, by setting at defiance the National and State banking prohibitions, and establishing a Mutual Bank in competition with the existing monopolies, take the first and most important step in the abolition of usury and of the State. Simple as such a step would seem, from it all the rest would follow.
A half-hour is a very short time in which to discuss the relation of the State to the individual, and I must ask your pardon for the brevity of my dealing with a succession of considerations each of which needs an entire essay for its development. If I have outlined the argument intelligibly, I have accomplished all that I expected. But, in the hope of impressing the idea of the true social contract more vividly upon your minds, in conclusion I shall take the liberty of reading another page from Proudhon, to whom I am indebted for most of what I know, or think I know, upon this subject. Contrasting authority with free contract, he says, in his “General Idea of the Revolution of the Nineteenth Century”: —
“Of the distance that separates these two régimes, we may judge By the difference in their styles.
“One of the most solemn moments in the evolution of the principle of authority is that of the promulgation of the Decalogue. The voice of the angel commands the People, prostrate at the foot of Sinai: —
“Thou shalt worship the Eternal, and only the Eternal.
“Thou shalt swear only by him.
“Thou shalt keep his holidays, and thou shalt pay his tithes.
“Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.
“Thou shalt not kill.
“Thou shalt not steal.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.
“Thou shalt not bear false witness.
“Thou shalt not covet or calumniate.
“For the Eternal ordains it, and it is the Eternal who has made you what you are. The Eternal is alone sovereign, alone wise, alone worthy; the Eternal punishes and rewards. It is in the power of the Eternal to render you happy or unhappy at his will.
“All legislations have adopted this style; all, speaking to man, employ the sovereign formula. The Hebrew commands in the future, the Latin in the imperative, the Greek in the infinitive. The moderns do not otherwise. The tribune of the parliament-house is a Sinai as infallible and as terrible as that of Moses; whatever the law may be, from whatever lips it may come, it is sacred once it has been proclaimed by that prophetic trumpet, which with us is the majority.
“Thou shalt not assemble.
“Thou shalt not print.
“Thou shalt not read.
“Thou shalt respect thy representatives and thy officials, which the hazard of the ballot or the good pleasure of the State shall have given you.
“Thou shalt obey the laws which they in their wisdom shall have made.
“Thou shalt pay thy taxes faithfully.
“And thou shalt love the Government, thy Lord and thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, because the Government knows better than thou what thou art, what thou art worth, what is good for thee, and because it has the power to chastise those who disobey its commandments, as well as to reward unto the fourth generation those who make themselves agreeable to it.
“With the Revolution it is quite different.
“The search for first causes and for final causes is eliminated from economic science as from the natural sciences.
“The idea of Progress replaces, in philosophy, that of the Absolute.
“Revolution succeeds Revelation.
“Reason, assisted by Experience, discloses to man the laws of Nature and Society; then it says to him: —
“These laws are those of necessity itself. No man has made them; no man imposes them upon you. They have been gradually discovered, and I exist only to bear testimony to them.
“If you observe them, you will be just and good.
“If you violate them, you will be unjust and wicked.
“I offer you no other motive.
“Already, among your fellows, several have recognized that justice is better, for each and for all, than iniquity; and they have agreed with each other to mutually keep faith and right,— that is, to respect the rules of transaction which the nature of things indicates to them as alone capable of assuring them, in the largest measure, wellbeing, security, peace.
“Do you wish to adhere to their compact, to form a part of their society?
“Do you promise to respect the honor, the liberty, and the goods of your brothers?
“Do you promise never to appropriate, either by violence, or by fraud, or by usury, or by speculation, the product or the possession of another?
“Do you promise never to lie and deceive, either in justice, or in business, or in any of your transactions?
“You are free to accept or to refuse.
“If you refuse, you become a part of the society of savages. Outside of the communion of the human race, you become an object of suspicion. Nothing protects you. At the slightest insult, the first comer may lift his hand against you without incurring any other accusation than that of cruelty needlessly practised upon a brute.
“On the contrary, if you swear to the compact, you become a part of the society of free men. All your brothers enter into an engagement with you, promise you fidelity, friendship, aid, service, exchange. In case of infraction, on their part or on yours, through negligence, passion, or malice, you are responsible to each other for the damage as well as the scandal and the insecurity of which you have been the cause: this responsibility may extend, according to the gravity of the perjury or the repetitions of the offence, even to excommunication and to death.
“The law is clear, the sanction still more so. Three articles, which make but one,— that is the whole social contract Instead of making oath to God and his prince, the citizen swears upon his conscience, before his brothers, and before Humanity. Between these two oaths there is the same difference as between slavery and liberty, faith and science, courts and justice, usury and labor, government and economy, nonexistence and being, God and man.” T.
* An address delivered before the Unitarian Ministers’ Institute at the last annual session in Salem, Mass.. October 14, 1890, at which addresses on the same subject were also delivered by Rev. W. D. P. Bliss, from the standpoint of Christian Socialism, and President E. Benjamin Andrews, of Brown University, from the standpoint of State regulation.
It will be remembered that several years ago Edmund Burke’s essay, “A Vindication of Natural Society,” was published serially in Liberty’s columns. I now have it in pamphlet form. It is an eloquent onslaught upon governments of every nature. It has 36 pages, and the price is 10 cents.
Headers will please note that the price of “What’s To Be Done?” in paper has been reduced from 75 cents to 35 cents. This is a very low price for a book of 329 large pages, and puts Tchernychewsky’s wonderful novel within the reach of all.
Those desiring to possess the collection of “D’s” essays (to be reprinted from the “National Reformer”) can subscribe for the same by addressing Josephine S. Tilton, 301 Shawmut Ave., Boston, Mass. The price of the book will be $2.00.
[Grant Allen in London Short Cuts.]
I am asked by the editor of “Short Cute” to discourse in public concerning Fair Wages. Well, the task affords me peculiar pleasure — because I haven’t the very faintest conception myself what on earth Fair Wages can possibly mean. There is a gentleman in Italy, we are told, who undertakes to cure most known diseases, and many unknown ones, by the application of something that he chooses to describe as Blue Electricity. Now, electricity (within my humble experience) may be positive or negative, mild or powerful, constant or intermittent, but cannot conceivably, it seems to me, be blue or green, or red, or yellow. Just in the same way, I take it, wages may be sufficient or insufficient, high or low, in kind or in coin, squalid or substantial; but I don’t know how they can possibly be fair. The adjective and the substantive do not belong to the same category of ideas. Ton might almost as well talk with eloquent vagueness of a beautiful murder or a charming robbery.
For the very conception of wages itself implies a haphazard world divided into a small body of land-owners and capitalists on the one hand, and a large body of expropriated wage-earners on the other. In a community organized upon an ethical basis — a community in whose original arrangement questions of right and wrong had been taken into consideration at all — there could be no such group as the purely wage-earning group; everybody would be a shareholder alike, and would receive an equal dividend from the common fund. As long as land-owning and capitalism exist, wages will, of course, exist by their side; and we can’t help it. But to apply to such wages an epithet like “fair” is to introduce ethical concepts into a relation of society to which they are not adapted. The normal condition of things in a capitalist and land-owning world is a condition of open or concealed struggle between wage-earners and wage-payers. The first are trying to claim their own; the second are trying to keep it back from them. The employer admittedly gets his labor for the very least sum that the laborer will accept; the laborer admittedly can only ask as much as will secure him against being undersold by competing laborers. In all this there is nothing fair in any way. It is open war; pure barbaric Rob-Royism translated into the sphere of peaceful economics. The struggle has its rules, but that is all. It is none the less an unmitigated struggle.
If anybody doubts this, can he tell us what he means by Unfair Wages? Clearly, you cannot permanently obtain labor for less than the minimum cost of subsistence at any particular time in any particular country. But unskilled labor can never obtain more than that, for there will always be persons prepared to sell their labor at the very barest rate that will support existence. If anybody, on the other hand, chooses to pay more than this, he may be paying a generous wage, as things go nowadays, but not a fair one. For how are you possibly to measure its fairness? “Oh,” you say, “a fair wage is as much as will allow the laborer and his family to live on his earnings in moderate comfort.” Exactly; but what laborer? The Englishman or the Chinaman? The East End immigrant or the New England artisan? And what family? Wife and child, or wife and ten children? And what comfort? Comfort as understood in a mud village on the Nile, or comfort as understood in a mansion in Belgravia? I suppose if Fair Wages mean anything at all, they mean such wages as would enable the laborer and his family to live as well as anybody else lives,— such wages, in short, as would enable everybody to attain the same standard of comfort. But then they would have ceased to be wages at all and would have become dividend. The Socialist ideal would by that time have been realized.
Meanwhile, what ought the laborers as a body to aim at? Fair Wages? Well, that means nothing. Wages such as will leave a Fair Rent on land and a Fair Interest on capital? That means still less; for if Fair Wages are nonsense, Fair Rent is a contradiction in terms, and Fair Interest is an economical fallacy; they imply that one man has some inherent born right to take to himself some given area of the soil of the country, or some fixed proportion of the products of labor. Is Fair Interest five per cent., or three per cent., or two and a half per cent., or nothing? Who shall decide for us? The thing is absurd. No, the business of the laborer at present is to combine, if he can, so as to get, not Fair Wages, but the very highest wages he is able to squeeze out of the reluctant capitalist. The capitalist, of course, will combine in turn; he has always combined, and hitherto he bas squeezed the laborer mercilessly. As long as he did so, he devoutly called it Political Economy. But now, when the laborers are beginning to follow his own prescription, he is very much scandalized. He calls it Socialism, and complains that Capital is being driven out of the country. At the same time, however, he builds new docks and opens Liverpool and Manchester ship-canals.
But how about the interests of the poor land-owner and the poor capitalist? Depend upon it, they won’t suffer. They can take care of themselves; they have always done so. You need never be afraid of the poor rich. It’s the poor poor you’ve got really to think about. As long as capitalists had the upper hand, they preached incessantly the grinding doctrines of the old orthodox political economy: “The proletariat is prolific; they will pullulate by thousands on the hillside if you allow them room enough; they’ll have ten children apiece, and keep you supplied with plenty of raw material for labor; all you have to do is to give them the smallest wages they can possibly accept; competition between them will make them take the very least they can just keep body and soul together upon.” That was the gospel of Supply and Demand. While that gospel lasted, things went very well; oh, noble, beautiful, political economy! Science, don’t you know? Immutable laws of population and food, and all that sort of thing; very simple and very comfortable — for the employer of labor. But now, some hot-headed demagogues have found out at last that the proletariat, too, can combine to starve capital; and every day they are making the proletariat see it clearer. So the talk begins to be no longer about supply and demand, but about Fair Wages.
Now, there can be obviously no such thing as Fair Wages. That would imply some sort of reciprocity. Good wages — yes; ample wages — we hope so; no wages at all, only universal profit-sharing, perhaps, in due time, a long way off; but Fair Wages — never! Impossible! For wages could only be really fair if we all started fair and even; if no man monopolized land or natural products; if everybody had his proper share alike in all the unused resources of Nature. Two fair states of society are conceivable by the human mind, both Utopian, but one or the other perhaps in the end realizable. The first (and to my mind the fairest) is the Individualist Ideal — an ideal in which neither land, sea, earth, air, coal, iron, water, nor wood could be monopolized by anybody; a condition of society in which all would have equal freedom of access to all natural energies and productions alike; and in which, accordingly, rent and wages could have no existence, but in their place we should have free interchange of mutual services. The second (to my mind less desirable, but towards which the practical set is at present so strong that no wise man will attempt to oppose it) is the Socialist ideal,— an ideal in which capital and land have been absorbed by the community and in which products are distributed by the community in general.
Either of those is in its way fair; the man who draws his dividends under either is getting paid, in a sense, Fair Wages. But failing those ideals, there is no question at all of wages being fair, because the word “wages” implies that a large part of the products of the man’s labor is being withheld from him to satisfy the imaginary claims of landlord and capitalist. What the laborer is justified in aiming at is the highest wages he can possibly get. If they rise so high that landlord and capitalist are crushed out of existence altogether, then, to be sure, he has reached what may metaphorically be called Fair Wages. But there is no fear, or rather there is no hope, that anything of the sort will happen in the next few centuries. It is well that labor should keep these ultimate ideals forever before its eyes; but it is well, also, that it should do exactly what it is doing at present,— fight land and capital over every detail and every chance of an advance, knowing as it must know that only by such slow and gradual advances can it ever get nearer its final goal. The Socialist heaven cannot be carried by storm; it can but be scaled by slow approaches up long and weary ladders whose successive rungs are dimly marked by eight-hours’ movements and by the full round orb of the docker’s tanner.
Seek Good Always in Nazareth.
[J. Wm. Lloyd in Twentieth Century.]
For genuine, yet modest knowledge, I go to Agnostics, for wise faith to Infidels, for sincere reverence to Atheists, for idealism and elevated spirituality of thought to Materialists, for love and purity to Free Lovers, for social order to Anarchists, for reliable altruism to Egoists, for true conservatism to all Radicals. Do you doubt me?
Do you doubt that you shall find what I have found? “And Nathaniel said unto him: ’Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip saith unto him: ’Come and see.’”
Don’t keep Liberty to yourself, share it with others!
Leonard E. Read: Accent On The Right: To Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850), who sought for truth rather than outcome and never witnessed the fruits his labor bore. Obedience to conscience was his first rule; we witness the results.
Leonard E. Read: Anything That’s Peaceful: Many favor peace but not many favor the things that make for peace. — Thomas à Kempis
Leonard E. Read: Awake for Freedom’s Sake: Finally, share with others. Forget about “reforming” them! The more we share, the more we learn. This is in the interest of self and freedom!
Leonard E. Read: Castles in the Air: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; there is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau
Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State: Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security. In this provocative book, Gerard Casey argues that social order can be spontaneously generated, that such spontaneous order is the norm in human society and that deviations from the ordered norms can be dealt with without recourse to the coercive power of the state.
Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers: Murray Rothbard: Murray Rothbard (1926–1995) was an economist, historian, philosopher, and legal theoretician. His work was unified by a passionate and resolute commitment to a libertarianism that may be characterized as ‘anarcho-capitalism’ and which implied a belief that even the legal system may be provided privately without the need for a coercive collective authority. Hence, anarcho-capitalists envisage a society where the traditional role of government is wholly subsumed by private, profit-making enterprises and all social relationships are ultimately founded upon consent.